What to do if sewage floods your property

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1 What to do if sewage floods your property

2 This leaflet will answer some of your questions and concerns, as well as give you helpful information and advice. What we will do for you Sewer flooding is unpleasant and we treat all cases with the highest priority, so if our sewers have caused the problem we ll offer to clean up affected areas free of charge. We aim to do this on the same day but this may be impossible if a large area is affected, or if flood waters have not all drained away. Once waters have receded we ll aim to get to your property within 48 hours. In periods of very bad weather our response times may vary. But don t worry we ll keep you fully informed of our progress. Our clean-up service will include, where appropriate: Litter picking Washing down affected areas Pumping out basements Disinfection So we can work out the best solution to the problem, it s really important you tell us each time you re flooded. This means our records are up to date. Contacting your insurers It s important you contact your household insurance provider and tell them about any damage caused by the flooding you may be able to get a more comprehensive clean-up through them. Check your level of cover with your insurers now or as soon as possible after the flooding has occurred. Are there health risks? There should be no health risks provided reasonable precautions are taken: Keep children and pets away from the flooded areas Wash children s hands frequently - particularly after playing outdoors and always before meals. Wear protective clothing such as rubber gloves if you re cleaning up and cover up any cuts and grazes Food which may have been in contact with flood water should be thrown away If you show any symptoms such as diarrhoea or vomiting after a flood, call your doctor straight away. For further health advice visit Public Health England s website

3 Will flooding affect my drinking water? The pipes carrying drinking water around the network are sealed, underground and under pressure so even if there was a leak the pressure forces the clean water out rather than letting other substances in. But if you have any concerns regarding your drinking water, you can call us 24 hours a day on Cleaning your home If you decide to clean up the affected area yourself, here are some useful guidelines. Use a food-safe disinfectant to wash down kitchen work surfaces and storage areas Don t rake or dig soil or grassed areas as this can slow down the action of sunlight in killing off bacteria Leave soil used for growing crops unused for 12 months Disinfectant can be used on hard surfaces such as paths, drives, patios, decking, furniture and children s toys but it can also kill plants and grass If you ve been flooded inside your home or garage, you may want to use low-level heating and open windows to speed up the drying process, but only after the water has receded. Do not use petrol or diesel generators or equipment indoors as the exhaust fumes are dangerous. Who owns your sewer? Detached Semi-detached Terraced Flats Public sewer/drain responsibility of the water and sewerage company Privately owned responsibility of the property owner Property boundary

4 How long should I keep off outdoor flooded areas? Sunlight helps kill off bacteria but how quickly depends on the weather. As a guide, it takes: 9 days when it s warm and dry 20 days when it s damp and cool 25 days when it s wet and cold What causes sewer flooding? Climate change, population growth and paving over green spaces that provide natural draining like front gardens are putting increased pressure on the sewerage network. This is often made worse by people putting products down the sink or the toilet that clog up the sewers like fat and grease or wet wipes and nappies. In many urban areas, the sewers carry not just foul sewage from kitchens and toilets but also rainfall. This means that during a heavy storm the sewers can reach their capacity. But while they can cope with the vast majority of storms, rainfall can sometimes be so heavy that it overwhelms the system. When this happens, sewage can overflow from manholes and gullies and flood land, rivers and gardens. Who s responsible for what? Surface water and Groundwater Local Council Highway flooding Local council Highways Agency River levels Environment Agency Public sewer Thames Water

5 Tankers and pumps In certain circumstances, we use tankers to limit the impact of sewer flooding for customers. Tankers can only offer limited relief from the symptoms of flooding. When used for extended periods in villages and close to homes they can also cause considerable noise and disruption. If possible we will use temporary pumps. We prioritise the use of tankers to protect our customers suffering from, or at risk of, internal flooding, rather than attempting to pump away river water and groundwater, against which they could not make any significant impact. Portaloos and sandbags People should contact their local flood authority, often the local council, for advice on toilet facilities and sandbags as they may be able to provide them. We use sandbags to protect our pumps and sewage treatment sites from floodwater to minimise the impact of flooding on our customers properties but we do not routinely offer them to protect customers homes. We re really sympathetic to those who are unable to use their toilet facilities and we will work with the local authorities to assist in the restoration of your facilities. Our promise to you If the inside of your property has been flooded with wastewater from our public sewer we ll automatically credit your Thames Water account with your annual wastewater service charge (up to a maximum of 1,000 or a minimum of 150). If the outside of your property has been flooded with wastewater from our public sewer and you have suffered damage, financial loss or loss of amenity you can claim half your annual wastewater service charge (up to a maximum of 500 or a minimum of 75). Please phone us on to get a claim form. What happens next? If we can t find the cause of the flooding when we first visit your property, we ll carry out investigations and get back to you within 30 working days. We ll then let you know what caused the flood and how we re going to put things right.

6 Who to contact Thames Water To report an urgent sewer-related matter call our 24-hour customer service team on or log on to thameswater.co.uk Textphone service for the deaf or hard of hearing This service is available for customers who have hearing problems. Please note, voice calls or mobile numbers aren t accepted via this 24-hour number Local authority To report groundwater property flooding and flooding from the roads or problems with highway gullies or ditches, contact your local council. Environment Agency If available for your neighbourhood, sign up for free flood warning messages from the Environment Agency to receive phone, text or messages about when flooding is expected or call Floodline on If rivers have burst their banks and it s affecting you, contact the Environment Agency on To report pollution incidents, river flooding or water quality issues, contact the 24-hour Environment Agency incident hotline on If your property is flooded by river water, contact your home insurer as soon as possible. Public Health England For any information relating to public health, visit its website Flood preparation For advice on preparing for a flood visit /15

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